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Wisteria: Making the best of wild vines

Wisteria: Making the best of wild vines

Auburn, Alabama—Spring flowers, weeds, and vines will be popping up left and right now that spring is officially here. Some are wanted while others are not.

One perennial vine known as wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) that will begin to appear on the canopy of trees, trellises or pergolas in the south displays fragrant clusters of lavender, purple or white flowers.

Wisteria in yards

Although wisteria is a wild vine, it can be intentionally grown and controlled in homeowners’ yards to add a pop of beautiful color.wht wisteria tree

“If a homeowner wants to plant wisteria, I suggest varieties that are less invasive such as American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) and evergreen wisteria (Millettia reticulate),” said Lucy Edwards, regional Extension agent. “American wisteria is not quite as fragrant, but does not require the pruning or caution associated with Chinese wisteria.”

Removing the vine

Unwanted wisteria can be removed, but it can be difficult. Wisteria should be removed by cutting the vines off as close to the ground as possible. When removing wisteria, individuals should be careful.

“Pulling wisteria from tree tops can be dangerous to individuals and damaging to surrounding plants,” said Edwards.

The “Cut Stump Method”can be used for additional control of the vine. The “Cut Stump Method” is a herbicide treatment technique that involves directly applying a prepared herbicide to a freshly cut stump.

The invasiveness of wisteria comes from the aggressive growth habit and the seeds germinating.


Wisteria seeds are produced in flat, hairy, bean-like pods that are 6 inches long. The seeds then fall to the ground. When adequate moisture is present, wisteria seeds germinate.

Uncontrolled Chinese wisteria displaces vegetation and kills trees.

“Where Chinese wisteria is not controlled it displaces the native vegetation and kills trees by girdling them,” said Edwards. “As the vine grows in size, it will shade out the undergrowth changing the structure of a forest.”

An individual wisteria plant can live for 50 years or longer. Its longevity aids in its ability to invade an area, choking out the native plants.

“Wisteria is a deciduous vine that is capable of growing up to 40 feet,” said Edwards. “Its stems can be up to 10 feet in diameter with smooth, gray bark. While it may not be showy in the winter, it is noticeable at its maximum size.”

Wisteria vines may not be as visible in the winter when no flowers are blooming, but it is noticeable at it maximum size.


Featured image by: Rudmer Zwerver/Shutterstock.com

About Morgan Emfinger


  1. I have a wisteria vine that came with my house and yard 20 years ago. For several years I cut it back to the ground each summer, thinking I would get rid of it. Now I would like to be friends with the vine and have some flowers! It is at the base of a pine tree and under a dogwood. Any suggestions on how to help it produce?